DENVER — Sixteen elementary schools within JeffCo Public Schools could be closed and consolidated into nearby schools next school year because of declining enrollment in the district.
District officials named the affected schools Thursday, prompting several concerned parents to attend a meeting days later at Sheridan Green Elementary School — one of the schools on the closure list.
The school board will vote on the proposed closures in November, but parents at Friday's meeting say the recommendations don't sound like a proposal.
"The vibe is, "This is a done deal. This is what's going to happen. There will be approval in November,"" said Raven Faber, whose children attend Sheridan Green. "So that's not a recommendation. That is the plan in this case."
Sheridan Green Elementary School principal Valerie Braginetz addressed parents' concerns, but Faber said many were still left shaken.
"There are a few parents in there who just look straight up worried and emotional," she said.
One of those parents was Lisa Krol, whose daughter has been in Jeffco Public Schools her whole life.
"She's will be in fifth next year, which is why it's such a big deal," Krol said. "I'm heartbroken, devastated. These are the friends she's known and the teachers she's known from kindergarten through fourth grade."
According to Lisa Relou, Jeffco Public Schools chief of strategy and communications, the closure proposal is due to the decline in student enrollment rates for 20 consecutive years, which has impacted school budgets.
"We have gotten to situations where schools no longer have full-time art, music, and PE teachers," Relou said.
Denver7 confirmed their are multiple other resources and programs that have taken a significant hit because of budget issues.
Another reason for the proposed closures — students leaving Jeffco Public Schools. District officials say the number of parents who enroll their children in schools outside of their neighborhood elementary school has increased over the years.
Some parents, like Kristen Ganaway, say they have good reason to. Ganaway lives across the street from Peck Elementary, but opted to enroll her children at Warner Elementary, which is two miles away from her home.
"I used greatschools.org to kind of inform my decision on what schools they were gonna go to. And I was really disappointed, honestly, in the schools, but Peck in particular," Ganaway said. "Honestly, my neighborhood has a ton of grade school kids in it, and I can't think of anyone that goes to Peck, which is within walking distance."
District officials say the "choice-out" rate is 57 percent at schools recommended for closures, compared to only 41 percent who "choice-in."
In the meantime, parents who may be impacted by these possible closures will have their own difficult choices to make next year if the aren't pleased with the school the district is consolidating theirs with.
"There are a number of parents who are not pleased," Faber said.
Each school named on the recommendation list will have a public meeting with parents to address their concerns through October.